Mindless Hooliganism or Pre-Emptive Strike?

The incursion Monday night by dozens of 'settler' youth into the Ephraim Army Base in Samaria has received severe condemnation across the political spectrum.

In the course of the incursion, it has been reported that IDF vehicles were vandalized; tyres were set on fire; subsequently base commander, Col. Ran Kahane, was attacked in his car and lightly wounded (Later Note: although this "injury" seems to have been denied now by the IDF spokesman).

The condemnations have come from Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Barak, right wing MK's, rabbonim and settler leaders, such as Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan.     

This incursion follows a series of aggressive acts, allegedly carried out by "settlers" as a part of "Tag Mechir" (Price Tag) policies. These include setting fire to a carpet in a mosque, a previous incursion into an army base (damage to vehicles), and graffiti scrawlings on the homes of left wing activists.

These acts have been widely reported as mindless hooliganism, and dangerous extremism.

Very little attention has been given to the Tag Mechir phenomenon as a whole, although both Makor Rishon and Hamishpacha have recently published focused articles on the Hilltop Youth (Noar Hagavaot), who are perceived to be associated with the Tag Mechir.

It is important to glance backwards, to better understand the Tag Mechir.

The story, in my mind, starts with the Oslo Peace Process – the recognition of the PLO as a peace partner, the importation of Arafat as the President of the Palestinian Authority, together with his murderous henchmen, and the accompanying chain of devastating terror attacks on Israeli buses, cafes, nightclubs etc, eventually reaching over one thousand Israeli dead.

There was a loud and pro-active anti-Oslo campaign of protests, largely orchestrated by Moshe Feiglin's shadowy Zoh Artzeinu.

This anti-Oslo campaign came to a drastic halt as the three shots rang out in the King of Israel Square in Tel Aviv, as Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. 

The right wing was then forced to engage in a "cheshbon nefesh" (an accounting of sins), with accusatory fingers pointed at politicians such as Benjamin Netanyahu, Rabbonim and protestors.

Next time around, the Gush Katif Disengagement in 2006, the anti-evacuation campaign chose a distinctly friendly theme – "We Will Succeed Through Love" was the chosen anthem. Demonstrations were large, law-abiding, with lots of rah-rah and tolerance. The evacuation was carried out, on schedule, and with no deaths or serious injuries. The evacuees hugged the troops, the troops handed out handkerchiefs, mission accomplished.

The new generation look at the Gush Katif Campaign with scorn, contempt and disdain. And they don't remember the 'chashbon nefesh' of the Rabin assassination.

A watershed post-Gush Katif stand-off was at Amona, a small village in Yehudah, where several houses were slated for demolition. Thousands of angry and resistant teenagers took on the Riot Police and Border Guards. It was a painful affair, hundreds of teenagers were wounded (including several of my relatives), some critically, and the government forces were accused of excessive violence against the young protestors.

The creed of some factions of this young generation has further developed after the relative success of Amona. 

Any policies or actions the activists deem antithetical, will be met with force, not displays of love and tolerance. Thus the "Tag Mechir" – Price Tag – will be exacted for each act of the Government against the settler movement. The Price can be exacted against uninvolved Arabs, the Israeli police, army, politicians, whoever. There's a certain randomness and recklessness which is considered a tactical advantage over the enormous physical power and resources of the Army and Police.   

In that context, Monday night a call went out to the faithful that there were rumours of imminent evacuations and destructions of several outposts ("maachazim"), with large troop movements in the field, and thus busloads of young activists were recruited on short notice to man the outposts and defend them from Border Patrol soldiers, riot police and bulldozers.

In keeping with Tag Mechir, it would seem a group of activists went one step further, and took the fight to the troops, in their camp. From the fact that out of an estimated fifty participants just one was caught, I surmise that the camp may have been effectively empty at the time. Perhaps the troops really were out, on their way to destroy the Outposts. Perhaps as a result of the activists incursion, no outposts were destroyed on Monday night.

In Israeli terms, this may have been a pre-emptive strike - and the army was apparently outflanked.

I fundamentally and totally disagree with the Tag Mechir policy – I'm by nature a "We Will Succeed Through Love" kind of guy.

The use of violence of Jew against Jew (by both sides – the Army and the Activists), and Jew against random Arabs, fills me with disgust and shame.

The solution lies in the Knesset and the Courts - to legalise the Outposts and New Villages in Yehudah & Shomron.

Not in setting Jews against Jews.

In my opinion, even if either side in this dispute achieves its tactical objectives, destroying these villages on the one hand, or the activists defeating the Army on the other, the Price Tag, for Am Yisrael, is too high.


  1. Your attempt to defend the indefensible is admirably British but ignores the crucial fact that the security forces have to enforce the law. We, as parents, have to bring up our children to respect the law and to try to change the political reality through democratic means, but not through violence. And we should ask ourselves why our political parties just sit back ineptly and rely on settler youth to fight their battles?

  2. "The solution lies in the Knesset and the Courts - to legalise the Outposts and New Villages in Yehudah & Shomron."

    David, I'm shocked! In effect what you're saying is that when anyone wants anything that isn't currently allowed under the law the way to get it is to break the law, take what they want, then attack the authorities until they get it. Are you serious???

    Understand the seriousness of this incident. Attacking an army base is an extreme act of provocation. In an area like this one, those guarding at the front gate should have rules to shoot to kill anyone suspicious approaching them. Their primary job is to protect themselves and the lives of their comrades inside the base. This whole incident could have ended very, very differently. B"H it didn't!

    If the army is sent to shut down an illegal outpost, it is sent by the government to do so. You don't like it? You don't agree with it? Go talk to the government! Change the decree, or not but don't ever target those who are risking their lives daily to protect us!!!

    Too often in this country people take what they want (the verb in Hebrew is "Lehitnachel") literally to "occupy" or "settle" it, and then claim it's theirs and the government HAS to recognize it. This cannot be an acceptable method ever!

    Also, your last comment is ludicrous. The activists won't defeat the army. Just like in most dealings with the Arabs, the army tries to hold back, but if provoked, and certainly if threatened like these soldiers were, the time will come when soldiers will open fire on their attackers, be they Arabs or Jews. Someone had better reign in these miscreants before things REALLY get out of hand!

  3. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Bobbie-respecting, law abiding chap.

    I am not blind of the fact that, particularly in the field of political protest, there are sometimes specific Policies and Laws which are challenged, sometimes even including breaking those policies and laws, bedavka.

    Such miscreants (thanks for the word Joel!) include some rather impressive folks.

    Consider Natan Scharansky; Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir & Moshe Feiglin; further afield, Nelson Mandella, Mehatma Gandhi, Anwar Sadat.

    They all broke the policies and Laws they protested. All spent periods of their lives behind bars for it.

    This debate was carried out intensively during the Gush Katif protests - and a deliberate decision was taken by the protests leadership to protest within the law. (Although the actual demands to voluntarily leave by such-and-such-a-day were flouted).

    These kids are not Israel's equivalent of football hooligans.

    Some of them are likely to be tomorrow's political leadership.

  4. Branding Jewish opponents to anti-settlement government policies, and to the left-wing dominated legal system - as "terrorists" smells like a witch hunt.

    "The Hunting Season" revisited.

  5. Jon,

    These people are not being branded terrorists because they oppose government policies, they are being branded terrorists because they attacked the army! OUR ARMY! By the way, even Avigdor Lieberman, that big-time lefty himself is branding these people terrorists... what does that tell you?


    Don't make the mistake of comparing these people to the list of political leaders mentioned above. None of them physically attacked their own people, none of them! The closest is Feiglin, but to my recollection he was arrested for protesting, not violence...

    Your blog is tellingly called "Tzedek Tzedek." A noble quest. Find for your readers the tzedek in the attack on our soldiers, otherwise, write about true tzedek and stay away from those who are angling towards sinat hinam and civil war.
    Their terrorism (and yes, most of our leaders left and right are calling it that) could lead to more destruction in Israel than all the kassams so far...

  6. Joel - with all respect, I think you're getting carried away by the excesses of the Israeli Press and of the political leadership.

    Riot police, facing protesters, wear protective helmets, hold shields, because they regularly get pelted with anything that comes to hand.

    All over the world.

    In Israel, the army has been given the job in Yehudah and Shomron of demolishing unlicenced structures, controlling and putting down the civilian protests which result.

    Yes, the soldiers are therefore being put in harms way. By the Government.

    The Army were sent on an operation to destroy settlements on Monday night.

    The idea that the civilian population must hold up their hands and walk away, solely because the guys doing it were in green, is absurd.

  7. Ari,

    There is a huge difference between civilians pelting riot police on a city street during a protest and civilians invading an army base looking to harm soldiers.

    In any case, it's the job of the soldiers to be put in harms way by the government. If we the people don't like it, then we have the right to protest. What the settlers don't seem to get is that they're in the minority on the issue of illegal outposts. Tough, deal with it!

    It's time that the civilian population recognizes that illegal outposts are just that, ILLEGAL. They have no legal right to be there. When the army or any other authority comes to stop an illegality and destroy it then yes, the civilians should hold up their hands and walk away.

    What is absurd is that people think that they have some divine right to abuse our soldiers and our law. That is what's absurd!

  8. I agree with Fuad Ben Eliezer - put all these kids up against a wall and shoot them!

  9. Joel,

    You raise a number of points.

    For starters, I restate unabmiguously that I am against the whole philosophy of Tag Mechir.

    I am also for hityashvut - a process which has been frozen by successive Governments for decades.

    Joel, many of the villages slated for demolition are not black/white 'illegal'.

    Some were purchased from Arab landowners; some were approved for housing and funded by Israeli Governments; none have received final approvals.

    These approvals are held up, primarily, by the Ministry of Defence. The Minister, Ehud Barak, needs to sign off, and they move from "illegal" to "legal".

    In other cases, laws can be changed in Knesset to grant unauthorised villages to receive legal status. (This was recently done for 'illegal' Bedouin villages near Beersheva).

    It is my position that both sides should settle these disputes by negotiation, Knesset, political and legal means.

    Not by pitting Jewish soldiers against Jewish settlers.

    The results are indeed frightening - and we all end up losing.

  10. I don't think there should be any connection made between what the government does and what these tag machir people do. If we believe in democracy, then the government, and only the government, has the right to determine which settlements to build, which to dismantle, etc. Nobody has the right to take things into their own hands. Once we start making connections between government policy and vigilantism, we're heading for the same place as those lunatics vandalizing Orot and those many people in the media and elsewhere who try to justify terrorism. Besides that, if it weren't for the state and the army, there wouldn't be any settlements. You can't scream for the army when you're being attacked and then act as if the army is the enemy when they carry out a government policy you don't like.

  11. As of 30 Kislev/December 26, MKs, mayors and police look like jackasses for failing to have addressed the problem early on. The irresponsible behavior has endangered many of us. I was almost murdered, with another woman in the same car, by the psychopaths in 2002. That local rabanim delayed declaring their intolerance of increasing displays of hatred worsened the situation. Coming to a unity concert and signing a petition was too little too late. Read this blogpost and weep for the sad reality http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2011/12/human-pieces-of-garbage-and-their.html

  12. Here is the ATZUM summation of a horrific abuse of females. It includes remarks about ineffective, too little too late rabbinics. Catch that 30% of the Israeli prostitution customers are ___ statistic. THEY impugn the decency of little girls in Bet Shemesh???? http://www.brandeis.edu/israelcenter/newsEvents/lauer.html


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